"A hundred percent of the people would agree that I probably have less years on my arms than mid-20-year-olds do who have pitched their whole life. I didn't start pitching until I was 24 years old, so right now, I have about 11-12 years under my belt of throwing, which is a lot less than a lot of pitchers. So that's one of the pluses."Nathan said he's heard back from a few doctors that were sent copies of the MRI on his elbow for second opinions. The reality, he said, is that the doctors told the closer he won't really know whether he needs surgery until he tries to throws with the injury. "I've been trying to keep it strong, keep my strength up and keep all the muscles as strong as I can and hope for the best," Nathan said. "At the same time, I'm not going to drag this along. If it doesn't feel like I can compete at the level that I'm used to, not just go out and compete but at a level that I want to compete at, and if it doesn't feel like myself out there, if it doesn't feel right, then I'm going to get this thing taken care of and be ready for 2011." Nathan hasn't missed time during a season on the disabled list since 2000, when he had a shoulder injury while with the Giants. If he has to undergo surgery, Nathan said it would be difficult to have to watch games this summer knowing that he can't help the team. But he's trying to take things as positively as he can, whichever route he ends up choosing. "Whatever happens in my career, and I tell this to everybody, you have to look at the bright side," Nathan said. "And for me, if the worst case does happen, I see it as a chance to prolong my career and give myself a new arm and pitch for another five years after this and feel confident that things are healthy again. ... That's the worst-case scenario for me, coming back in 2011 with a brand-new arm."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.